The Appalachian Trail: 6 Reasons You Should Take on a Challenge

The lovely outdoorsy Jess is here with an inspiring hiking guest post on the Appalachian Trail and 6 reasons you should take on a challenge. Enjoy!

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The Appalachian Trail is one of America’s greatest footpaths. Experts rarely agree on just how long the trail is but even the lowest estimates put it at more than 2150 miles of mountain, meadow, and woodland. Some hikers go all the way from Georgia to Maine and others pick the best parts and ‘section hike’ for a week or a weekend.

Even a weekend can be pretty tough. Over most of those 2000+ miles of trail you have to carry your own food, sleeping gear, and cooking equipment. Some sections are steep and the going can be tough. The weather might not be on your side, but AT enthusiasts feel that the effort is more than worth it.

Here are 6 reasons you should consider taking on a section of the Appalachian Trail too:

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Hiking can help you find your independence.

1. Find your independence.

Being a long way from a convenience store isn’t always such a bad thing. On the AT (or any other long distance trail) you have to take care of yourself but it is possible to do that. Get back to basics and it’s much easier to prioritise what’s important and what’s not. Standing on your own two feet can bring a new sense of confidence too.

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Hiking the Appalachian Trail can yield some pretty amazing views.

2. See the sights.

Sometimes you can get a great view just be driving up to a lookout and stopping the car. In fact, the Appalachian Trail runs along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway for quite a while. But what about those views you’d never see if you didn’t work for them? There are some experiences that only hikers get to have.

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While hiking the Appalachian Trail you might see a gorgeous blue jay like this one.

3. Find rare wildlife.

Unfortunately, North American songbirds are in decline and so are many other meadow and woodland species. The AT runs through wilderness that is home to everything from black bears to blue jays, porcupines to salamanders. You never know what you might see on the path. Some hikers even claim to have seen mountain lions.

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Hiking the Appalachian Trail might even help you raise money for charity.

4. Raise money for charity.

A sponsored hike is a great way to raise funds. It doesn’t matter if it’s about cancer research or saving those songbirds, there are plenty of good causes out there and all of them could use a little extra help.

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Hiking the Appalachian Trail can help you get fit–maybe like these guys…maybe.

5. Get fit.

Hiking is great exercise. If you carry a hefty backpack it’s even better. A day on the trail will burn plenty of calories and you’ll be lighter on your feet at the end of it.

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There is little more fun about hiking the Appalachian Trail than seeing beautiful natural wonders like this.

6. Have fun!

The most common reason people decide to hike anywhere is because they like doing it, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. The fresh air, the great views and wildlife sightings, the friends you’ll make on the trail, the campfire cooking, not having to worry about anything beyond putting one foot in front of the other… There are so many things to love about a trail like the AT.

About the author: Jess is an experienced long-distance hiker, although she hasn’t ever done 2000 miles in one hit! She writes for Appalachian Outdoors, a Pennsylvania-based outdoor store selling everything from keen footwear to first aid kits. She also edits an outdoor clothing website.

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Thank you, Jess, for an amazing post on hiking the Appalachian Trail. Come back anytime!

Have you ever hiked the Appalachian trail? Would you want to, if not? Tell me in the comments!

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Read the last post 5 Jewels of Blogging Who Will Make You Better Bloggers, and check out my homepage for other great posts!

Feature images courtesy of Flickr via Creative Commons.

10 Comments

  1. I know someone who hiked it and camped out. Amazing…this was in the 1970s. Her calves were larger than everyone else’s because of her journey…she went with her husband and they just were able to take off work.

    • Carole, I bet her and the husband were in terrific shape. What an amazing hike.

  2. I’ve never hiked the whole trail, but bits and pieces of it through Virginia. Absolutely gorgeous does not begin to describe the sights!

    • I’d love to do some hiking in VA, Krystal. I hope you have some great pics!

  3. 7) The challenge of a lifetime!!!

    At least that’s what drove me onto the trail. I agree with all of your above reasons (except perhaps the getting fit option – undoubtedly people lose tremendous amounts of weight while on the trail, but more often than not it’s regained twice as fast upon finishing. Getting fit is a lifestyle change, not a half year adventure, but I digress….).

    For someone who went onto the trail having never backpacked before in his life, I saw the AT as a test, as was the case with many of whom I talked to on the trail around me. Although the trail is a half year vacation, it’s also difficult beyond belief. And although walking from Georgia to Maine is tough, the real challenge is what happens inside of your head when deciding to live in the woods for 5-7 months.

    If anyone reading this is seriously considering the trail, I strongly recommend it, but be sure to know why you’re hiking before embarking. Using Amber’s list is a great start. Also, for those interested I wrote an Appalachian Trail Book which prepares hikers for this most difficult, yet overlooked, aspect of the trail: the mental battle.

    Good luck and happy hiking!!

    • Zach, thanks so much for coming by and adding some incredible insights and knowledge. Happy hiking, indeed, for anyone who even embarks on a portion of those beautiful (sometimes treacherous) trails. :-)

  4. I’ve always wanted to try hiking. I agree that it’s challenging, fun, and you can see the different beauties of nature. I just haven’t got the chance yet.

    • Tiffany, I’ve done some short hikes, and I highly recommend them. Especially some of the beautiful places I’ve seen here in GA in the Chattahoochee National Forest.

  5. I love hiking and the Appalachian Trail sounds like an amazing place!

    I love that Jess made the point about hiking/walk for charity. What an awesome walk that would be! Well-written post and gorgeous pics! Thanks to both Jess and Amberr!

    • Intricate, I thought you might like this one, knowing as I do your love of nature. ox

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